Men’s tennis off to solid start

Warhawks have won five of its first six

Calahan Steed, Staff Reporter

The Warhawk men’s tennis team continued its exceptional season start by sweeping the Warhawk Invite over the weekend in Lake Geneva.

Whitewater defeated Ohio Wesleyan University Feb. 15 and then took down Wheaton College (Ill.) and Grinnell College (Iowa) Feb. 16 to advance to a 5-1 overall record.

UW-W won four of its first six games last season before finishing the regular season with a 16-9 overall record. It ended up winning the WIAC tournament.

The Warhawks began their successful weekend by serving Ohio Wesleyan an 8-1 loss. Senior Jimmy Englehart and freshmen Alex Gray, Ryan Mitchell, Brendan Pietila and Noah Guillermo all accounted for singles victories. The Warhawks were victorious in all three doubles matches.

“Normally we start a couple weeks early, so we spent those two weeks practicing, trying to find some good doubles combinations and trying to get these new freshmen used to college tennis,” said head coach Frank Barnes, who credits Whitewater’s fast start to a later schedule.

On Saturday morning, the Warhawks defeated Wheaton in the morning meet by a score of 6-3. Junior Zach Wood accounted for the final point in the Warhawks’ victory by winning 6-3, 6-3. The Warhawks also received singles victories from Gray, Mitchell and sophomore Robert Rider.

Mitchell noted he is enjoying playing tennis at the college level due to the team aspect.

“I think the team is really close so that helps,” Mitchell said. “Everyone is rooting and pulling for each other, and everyone cares so I like it a lot more than high school.”

In the afternoon, the Warhawks defeated Grinnell by a 6-3 final. Englehart was victorious in two super tiebreakers on the day. Englehart, Gray, Mitchell and Pietila all claimed singles victories to help UW-W.

“As a team, right now we’re looking very strong out there,” Gray said. “I’m definitely happy with what I saw out out of us this weekend.”

The Warhawks were without their usual No. 2 player, senior Brandon Dechter, for the invite.

“It was really nice seeing the team come out and compete at just a high level together,” Gray said.

The freshmen have been key in Whitewater’s victories this season, as Gray and Mitchell are tied for the most singles victories at eight a piece.

“Very impressed with their maturity levels, especially in doubles,” Barnes said. “Singles you have a lot of these guys that are playing USTA tournaments coming in, but to be this advance at doubles already is kind of rare for freshmen.”

Next up for the Warhawks is an alumni event Feb. 23 in Whitewater. The Warhawks next meet is against Wabash College (Ind.) on March 10.